tv Meet the Press NBC June 16, 2013 10:00am-11:00am EDT
syria, will be top of mind at the g-8 summit. president obama sitting down face to face with russian president vladimir putin tomorrow. that is going to be a difficult discussion. they are at odds over syria. that is where we start the discussion. we have a key voice in the debate over what our next steps should be in syria, senator lindsey graham from south carolina here with us this morning. in studio, correspondent andrea mitchell and columnist for the "washington post" david ignatius. good morning to all of you. senator graham, let me start with you. the key step has been taken by this administration, the president saying he is now willing to arm the syrian rebels. so, what is the goal and how much closer to the goal does this step take us? >> i really don't know. it seems to be not being bush is our foreign policy. the goal should be to basically make sure assad leaves. last year, assad was isolated, he had very few friends, he was hanging by a thread. this year he's entrenched with hezboll hezbollah, iran and russia,
stronger behind him than ever. i think our goal should be in the short term is to balance the military power and providing small arms won't do it, so we need to create a no-fly zone to neutralize assad's airpower. >> so, you're saying this is too late, this is too little, the syrian rebels cannot prevail with this step by the administration. >> under this construct, they can't, and what does it mean if they lose? i think as syria's become a powder keg for the region, there's 60,000 children in jordan, the kingdom is under siege in terms of refugees. hezbollah is all in in syria, so lebanon's even more destable. this has been a nightmare year for syria. egypt's going backwards. leban lebanon's becoming unstable. russia is introducing into syria, threatening very sophisticated weapons. the weapons caches i fear the most could fall into the hands
of hezbollah. it's a powder keg for the region. our policies are not working and ak-47s will not neutralize the advantage assad has over the rebels. we need to do more. >> so, only by taking out assad can we have peace in this civil war? >> that's what the president says. the president says -- >> what do you say? >> -- assad must go. i say a political solution is the only way you solve this and assad those go to get a political solution. no rebel group's going to partition syria with assad still in power. so, yes, he has to go. then you find a political solution. but if the war lasts four, six months, jordan's going to go and israel's going to be surrounded by syria on fire, jordan at more radical and egypt becoming more radical. the whole region's about to blow up and our foreign policy, to me, i don't understand it. whatever it is, it's not working. >> david ignatius, what forced the president's hand on this? >> i think when the decision, the chemical weapons had been used by the assad regime, was
completed by the intelligence analysts and ready to go, it forced a decision that really already was made in embryo within the administration. i would add to what senator graham said. yes, our policy is to force assad to leave, but our policy at a deeper level is to build up the moderate opposition to assad. if assad left tomorrow in a sense, that would be bad for us, because the strongest forces in syria would be the jihadists, and you'd have complete chaos. so, in a sense, you want to wait a little bit for these forces to get stronger, for the u.s. arms to flow through. i was told by my syrian sources that just in the last few days, at this announcement, 60 syrian officers defected because they thought maybe there's a chance -- 6 generals, 22 colonels. so, there's one concrete sign on what difference it makes when the u.s. says we're with you. >> on the other side, our colleague, jeff goldberg, making the point that we're going to send small arms into syria. where are they going to go? we don't know who has guns in the united states. are we really going to be able
to track guns inside of syria? >> exactly. now, one of the questions that i think also precipitated this is iran. i think the administration had the intelligence about chemical weapons and were slow-walking it, they were hoping they could get to a political negotiation in geneva. that they've now given up on. in fact, they want to delay it. they realize assad's gained so much strength with hezbollah all in that if they were to go to negotiations now, there would be no way to remove him. i think what really precipitated this, moving on that red line, which they knew about and which britain and france had plenty of evidence of, was iran. they realize they are now at war with iran and with hezbollah and russian support, there was no way assad was going to lose. and in fact, it wouldn't just be stalemate, assad would win. the biggest problem they have now going into the g-8 is that russia has categorically denied it and the u.n. secretary-general agrees with russia. so, they are challenging the american intelligence, and frankly, after the last decade, u.s. intelligence on weapons of
mass destruction doesn't have a whole lot of credibility around the world. >> senator, back to you. the question and the stakes, or rather, the consequences of staying on the sidelines. i mean, one of the things that is troubling, i think, to a lot of americans, to hear you, to hear senator mccain. senator mccain on the floor this week saying, look, we should have a no-fly zone, we should neutralize the advantages assad has, and says we could do that without risking a single american airplane. isn't that irresponsible given the iraq experience to say that we can take that first step on a slippery slope and it won't that be dangerous? >> i don't think so, david. no boots on the ground is sort of everyone's position, including mine, because the rebels don't want us in there. i think you can neutralize the airpower clearing the runways from cruise missiles and set up a no-fly zone by having aircraft operating out of turkey and jordan to neutralize the airpower. what i would suggest is that if the war continues, how likely is
it that iran will take us seriously when it comes to their nuclear program if we continue to act indecisively regarding assad's syria? look what's happened to israel over the last year. their world is melting down. the russians are not hesitating in helping assad. hezbollah helped take back a town the rebels had just a few weeks ago. so, the balance of power is really now on assad's side. as andrea said, he is winning, and it is not in our interests for him to win. and if we don't do more than add ak-47s into the mix, he will continue to win, and the king of jordan is going to become toast. >> they have questions for you as well. i just want to put the staggering cost of this war -- i mentioned it in the open. let me put up a full-screen graphic of this. we are talking about more than 90,000 syrians killed over the last couple of years. this is online with bosnia now, as you look at that, and the number of kids under 10 years old being killed. it's very hard for americans to pay attention to something,
sectarian conflict, so complicated and so insoluble in some ways, but those are the real costs. >> and those are the costs, and a question for you, senator graham. i don't know how we resolve this, but if the jordans, for instance, with f-16s, were to crater the runways through a no-fly zone, how do we know where the chemical stockpiles are? how do we know they're not prepositioned on those very runways? >> well, see, that's the ultimate question. you asked me about my biggest fear, would be lose the king of jordan would prolong more, that the elements of the rebels could end up seizing the chemical weapons cache, that assad would share chemical weapons or advanced russian weapons with hezbollah, which would be a direct threat. all i can say is that a political negotiation can only happen when the calculations on the ground change militarily, and the only way you do that is to stop the airpower advantage assad has. so, there are no good answers. i'm not here -- i say there's bipartisan support for more involvement in the senate than
there was six months ago. i think everybody in america who watches this understands we can't just sit around and do nothing and give the rebels ak-47s. so, i think you can take the airpower advantage off the table by using cruise missiles. they don't have to be jordanian in nature. >> senator, shouldn't politicians like you, shouldn't the president himself be more honest with the people and say, we are on a slippery slope, that if in a few months -- >> yes. >> -- the rebels that we've supplied with these arms, heavy or light, are losing on the battlefield, that we're going to have to do more, that we're committed to them now, is that right? >> yes. >> so what does that mean? >> yeah, i think that's -- well, i think there's two wars. the first war is to displace assad, to change the balance of military power vis-a-vis assad so we can get a political solution. the second war is to deal with the radical islamists who have flown in to aid the rebels. unfortunately, you're going to have two wars. when assad falls, you're going
to have a war between the average syrian and the al qaeda elements who come into syria. here's the good news, david. i don't think the average syrian wants to displace assad and have an al qaeda state to replace him. these radical islamists are coming to the fight because of the security vacuum. they in my view do not represent the average syrian person. hezbollah, neither does al qaeda represent the average syrian. that's the good news, but they have to be fought. >> i have just a couple minutes left, senator. on a couple other matters. edward snowededen, is he a trai in your mind and what should the administration do to get him back to justice? >> bring him to justice and let a prosecutor make that decision, not a politician, but i think what he did is compromise our national security, and i've got a very simple view of the world, and you can blame me for being simple in complex times. i believe we should be listening to terrorists, known terrorist e-mails, following their e-mails and following their phone calls.
and if they're e-mailing somebody in the united states or calling somebody in the united states, i would like to get a judge's permission to monitor that phone call. if we don't do that, another attack on our homeland is very likely. we need this program and he's compromised it and he should be held accountable. >> the immigration debate. are you going to get a bill in senate that is strong enough to get passage as well in the house? >> after this interview, i'm going to leave you on a positive note. i think we're going to have a political breakthrough, that congress is going to pass immigration reform. i think we're going to get plus 70 votes. i've never been more optimistic about it. so, it would be great if we could pass immigration. and finally, as to syria, there is a bipartisan coalition growing around senator menendez that understands we need to get more involved as a nation to prevent the spillover from syria into the entire region, taking down all of our allies. >> one on politics. a gathering of religious leaders in washington and potential entrance into the 2016 race.
chris christie was with bill clinton at cgi. who has, do you think, got the most momentum in your party representative of a state with an early primary? >> that's a really good question. bill clinton doesn't have a whole lot of sway, but he's a popular figure. the faith-based groups reported by probably the leading candidates. i would suggest a guy like jeb bush would have a really good chance in 2016. a former governor or a governor, but you've got marco, you've got paul ryan. the good news is we have a deep bench, and after eight years of president obama's economic policies, and quite frankly, foreign policy, people are going to be looking around. but if we don't pass immigration reform, if we don't get it off the table in a reasonable, practical way, it doesn't matter who you run in 2016, we're in a demographic death spiral as a party, and the only way we can get back in good graces with the hispanic community, in my view, is pass comprehensive immigration reform. if you don't do that, it really doesn't matter who will run, in my view. >> all right, senator graham.
thank you, as always. just to button this up, we'll see you both back in our roundtable. but david, you wrote this weekend about the importance of backing moderate forces. >> yes. >> a moderate has won in iran. this is important. >> i think this is the wild card in this very complicated middle east puzzle. suddenly, we have in tehran, a key state, driving conflict in syria, a person who, as far as we can tell, has been repudiating the foreign policies of the current government, saying you need to do negotiations more, you're too distant from the west, you're relying on russia and china. it is absolutely fascinating that we are going to have a man who is associated with the reformist wing in iran in power as president. >> all right, you're back in a couple of minutes. we're going to take a break here. we're going to come back and take on the debate over government surveillance in the wake of the nsa leak. former government contractor edward snowden. what is next for him? how much damage did he do? we're joined by the top republican on the senate intelligence committee, saxby chambliss of georgia.
one of the senate's most vocal skeptics of the top-secret data-mining program, democrat mark udall of colorado. they are coming up next. we know why we're here. ♪ to connect our forces to what they need, when they need it. ♪ to help troops see danger, before it sees them. ♪ to answer the call of the brave and bring them safely home. [ female announcer ] around the globe, the people of boeing are working together, to support and protect all who serve. that's why we're here. ♪
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we've got to be smart about this. it's a smart way to go. ♪ we are back. joining me now, the vice chair of the senate intelligence committee, republican senator from georgia, saxby chambliss, and the democratic senator from colorado, mark udall. gentlemen, welcome to you both. senator chambliss, let me start with you on the news over syria and the president's decision to start arming the syrian rebels. what is the end game and what limits do you think should be placed on what the united states does in syria? >> well, i don't think you can place any limits on it right now, david. i do think it's imperative that assad be removed. it's pretty obvious that he is pretty well entrenched now, he has gone to the extreme of letting hezbollah have the run of syria. that is simply not good. and while i know there are bad guys involved in the opposition rebels, we've done a pretty good
job of ferreting out who are the good guys or who are the more moderate guys within that opposition, and i'm certain that's who the president's talking about providing arms to. >> should the president go farther, in your judgment? >> well, i think the military alternatives have got to be examined almost day to day, and i assume that's what he's doing. and if the military says that we need to implement a no-fly zone, we ought to do it right away. it's pretty obvious they're using airpower to take out some of these 90,000 to 100,000 folks who are innocent people in syria that have been killed, and a no-fly zone may be the ultimate tactic that has to be taken. >> senator udall, what do you say? you have raised concerns about exactly who the arms would go to, and we have a pretty rough history with regard to that when you think about afghanistan, trying to arm rebels and then having those weapons used against us later on. deputy national security adviser in the white house ben rhodes answered that question this week. here's what he said.
>> we have relationships today in syria that we didn't have six months ago that gives us greater certainty not just that we can get stuff into the country but also that we can put it in the right hands so that it's not falling into the hands of extremists. >> senator udall, do you believe him? >> i agree with senator graham and senator chambliss that we ought to ensure that our ultimate goal is a political settlement. we've got to tie up the unconventional and advanced conventional weapons that are there, we've got to protect the syrian people, and above all, we've got to make sure that al qaeda and other terrorist groups don't take root in syria. david, i'm open to all options, but i think that we ought to be listening to the president, we ought to be listening to military leadership. know, though, a no-fly zone and other involvement may lead to the slippery slope that others talked about, but this is a very dangerous, very fragile situation. if jordan falls, i fear for the region. >> let me ask you two about the other big debate back home over the nsa surveillance and edward
snowden. senator chambliss, is he a traitor? should he be tried as a traitor back in this country? and what do you think is next for him? how hard is it going to be to get him back to face justice? >> well, it depends on exactly what he's charged with and the process as followed by the prosecutorial team. i'm going to leave it to them to decide whether or not he ought to be charged with treason, but as i said earlier this week, if he's not a traitor, then he's pretty darn close to it. and as far as getting him back here, he needs to look an american jury in the eye and explain why he has disclosed sources and methods that are going to put american lives in danger. i mean, there's no question about it. we know now that because of his disclosure that the terrorists, the bad guys around the world are taking some different tactics and they know a little bit more about how we're gathering information on them, and i think it's important that we bring him to justice.
>> are you skeptical, senator udall, of the government's claims, the head of the nsa saying this has done real damage, that it harms national security, and with these programs, that terrorist plots have been foiled? >> david, if i might take a moment before i answer your question, i did want to say that my thoughts are with all the victims of the wildfires we've had here in colorado, and i want to insure them that i know the federal government will be there for them just like the federal government was there for the victims of hurricane sandy and the recent tornadoes in oklahoma. we stand together as americans, and i hope americans will send their prayers and thoughts out here to colorado. but let me turn to your question. i am skeptical that the 215 business records program of the nsa is effective. we are talking about the p.r.i.s.m. program. that's a second program. it has been effective. it surveils foreigners who are interested in terrorist activity. but i have to tell you that on
the 215 business records front, i don't think collecting millions and millions of americans' phone calls -- now, this is the meta data, this is time, place, to whom you direct the calls -- is making us any safer, and i think it's ultimately, perhaps, a violation of the 4th amendment. i think we should have this debate. i'll introduce a bill this week to narrow the reach to those who have a link to terrorism. a similar amendment passed in 2005. it had support from people like senator hagel, senator durbin and senator barack obama. i'd like to have that debate. it's important that the american public know what's being done in their name. >> you know, but it's very interesting, because as some commentators this week have pointed out, those who are concerned about civil liberties, imagine their reaction if there were another 9/11-style attack and what the american public would rise up to support in terms of quashing civil liberties. and you go back to the immediate aftermath of 9/11 -- and we did
some checking about that -- the joint inquiry into intelligence community activities before and after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. prior to 9/11, the intelligence community's ability to produce significant and timely signals intelligence on counterterrorism was limited by nsa's failure to address modern communications technology aggressively, continuing conflict between intelligence community agencies," and this is important, "nsa's cautious approach to any collection of intelligence relating to activities in the united states, and insufficient collaboration between the nsa and fbi negotiations in the u.s." so they were called too cautious, which is how we got the programs in the first place, correct, senator chambliss? >> no question about it. i was very involved after 9/11 as chairman of the house subcommittee on terrorism and homeland security, and along with my colleague, congresswoman jane harman from california, we did an investigation and we
found out exactly that, that nsa did not take advantage of the technology that is out there today, and had they done so, we'll never be able to say that we could have prevented 9/11 from happening, but certainly, we weren't doing the things that we were capable of doing to try to make sure that these bad guys don't have all the tools and that we utilize the tools that we have to figure out what they're doing, what they're planning and tt we're able to interrupt and disrupt them. and we've done that time and time again. i hope we're going to be able to be able to give the american public more examples of those interruptions and disruptions over the next several days, but the fact is that we know we've done that as a result of utilizing these tools. >> is there one that comes to mind? is there something that the public does not know yet that you can share that's actually been disruptive? >> well, the two that the nsa has talked about and they've
allowed us to talk about are the nazi case that was generated out of the monitoring of phone calls under 702 initially, where we picked up on a phone call made from pakistan into the united states, and then 215 was used after that to coordinate the ultimate monitoring and arrest of nazi, who was headed to new york with backpacks loaded with bombs to blow up the new york subway system. the other incident that we've been able to talk about is the david headley case. dual citizen, u.s. and pakistani, who lived in chicago who was involved in the mumbai bombings. and those two cases did -- we did pick up information in those two cases with the use of 702 primarily, but particularly, in the nazi case, also, there was coordinated use of 215. >> let me ask senator udall for reaction to what i showed you
about the prior criticism of the nsa being too cautious, which is what led to these programs. >> david, it doesn't have to be all or nothing, and i talked to coloradoans who want to understand why we're literally collecting millions of phone call data on a daily basis. my friend, saxby, points out how 702 helped identify zazi and headley in the plots they were generating. it makes sense to me that then you go get a warrant from the fisa court to use those phone records, that so-called meta data, to then find out what that network is. what i'm proposing is to limit that collection in a way that keeps faith with the 4th amendment. if you think about the 4th amendment, the king when the founders wrote the bill of rights, could not only take your property and your treasure, but he could take your life, and probably most precious of all, your liberty. i think we owe it to the american people to have a
fullsome debate in the open about the extent of these programs. you have a law that's been interpreted secretly by a secret court that then issues secret orders to generate a secret program. i just don't think this is an american approach to a world in which -- we have great threats, and my number one goal is to protect the american people, but we can do it in a way that also respects our civil liberties. i have no doubt. >> we're going to leave it there this morning. senator chambliss, senator udall, thank you both very much. coming up, we're going to talk little bit about how the president's handled all this and what the politics of all of it are. how did we get to this point? in 2001 there was discussion of government overreach with the patriot act. was anybody listening? our roundtable includes one of the former top spies, former director of the cia and nsa, general michael hayden. ouspies, former ♪ [ agent smith ] i've found software that intrigues me. it appears it's an agent of good.
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principal of the chertoff group, general michael hayden, democratic congressman from virginia, bobby scott, national security journalist for "the new york times," author of "state of war: the secret history of the cia and bush administration," james risen. and back again, david ignatius of the "washington post" and our own andrea mitchell. welcome to all of you. general hayden, you have been in the thick of this debate in your past as one of the nation's top spies. the politics of this are interesting in terms of where the american people are. and we'll put some of the polling on the screen. 56% believe that the secret court ordering the tracking of calls of millions of americans is something that is acceptable to the american people. do you think that still holds? will it hold as more information is known about it? >> i actually think as more accurate information is known about it, it will hold, and perhaps even expand. now, there's a natural instinct in the united states, a natural instinct by the way we cover
these sorts of things to rush the story to the darkest corner of the room, but i don't think that's where this story belongs. and as americans learn about the safeguards and the effects of the products of this program, i think they'll become even more comfortable. >> what has been misconstrued, from your judgment, having presided over these programs? what is done that people don't really understand is being done? >> what's most unfortunate is that both stories, p.r.i.s.m. and the meta data story, came out at the same time, and those stories have been interwoven in a bunch of public discourse about it. the meta data story does touch upon americans in a massive way with phone records but not the content. the p.r.i.s.m. story is about foreigners, and it is about content. and those things have become kluged together much to the harm of the rational national debate. >> i'm starting the conversation about the politics of all of this. congressman, you voted against the patriot act back in 2001, and we'll talk more about that. but president obama as somebody
who's presided over the expansion of these programs, had a much different outlook back in 2007 when he was running against, effectively, president bush. here's what he said back in august of 2007. >> this administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide. i will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our constitution and our freedom. >> what surprised me, and i wonder what you think, is that in light of all this, he has not come out and said, you know what, i did criticize president bush over all those programs, and once i became president, my views changed because i started to look at the threat assessment and i was not willing to accept risk beyond a certain level. >> well, i think you complicate the entire discussion by saying it's president obama's position or senator mccain's position. if you just look at the issue, i think it's a lot easier to discuss. there's really -- there are
really two uestions. one, whether you can collect all this data, and that's an open question, whether all telephone records are relevant to an ongoing investigation, that's an open question, i think. but even more important is, once you get the data, what can you do with it? and this thing is not limited to terrorism. if it were limited to terrorism, i think the discussion would go away. it's not limited to terrorism. once you get the -- once the fbi gets the information, then the question is, who can look at it, what can you do with information? i mean, there's a lot of stuff you can get if you just run through phone calls. i mean, somebody's called an escort service, an aids doctor, a bankruptcy attorney. i mean, there's a lot of stuff that would be interesting to know about somebody. we just had a supreme court case that said if you're accused of sexual assault, they can get your dna. once they've gotten it and determine it wasn't you, so they
have no information on you, they've got the dna, they can run it through the database just to see if you've committed a crime. now, they couldn't do that, they couldn't get the dna from you just to run it through, but once they've got it, they can use it. now, the fbi has all this data. what can they use it for? who can look into it? and who gets to see all these reports about th phone calls? >> but jim risen, as has been pointed out, there are a lot of concerns about what the government could do, but there is not actual evidence of abuse of these programs, is there? >> well, there's some. there's some limited -- >> and i should point out, your reporting going back into the last decade was instrumental in revealing a lot of these programs in the very start, during the bush years. >> there's some limited evidence of abuse. it's been anecdotal and there's never been a thorough investigation inside the government of that. one of the problems going back to the bush administration was all of this was kept so secret,
even after we began to report about it, that the inspectors general and the internal investigations were kept secret. so, there's never been a full public accounting of the level of abuse, the level of -- there's virtually no transparency at all about how much of this really has caught up american citizens. and i think that's really one of the issues here, is you've got the creation of a modern surveillance infrastructure with no debate publicly, except on an ad hoc basis whenever someone in the press reports about it. >> david? >> well, i don't think it's fair to say that there's been no debate. after these programs were conducted without legal authority, essentially warrantless wiretapping under the bush administration, there was an effort to create this in law, so laws were passed by bipartisan majorities, two congresses under two presidents, and we now have these surveillance programs in place.
a lot of congresspeople say, well, it's confusing, i couldn't bring my staff, i couldn't take notes, various reasons why they don't know as much as they'd now like to, but the point is that this is now established in law. parts of these programs are subject to court review by the foreign intelligence surveillance court. criticisms that have been rebuffed. the supreme court actually refused to look at a part of this, which is, in a sense, a permance. so, this is part of our system of laws and legal procedures, and that's what makes me nervous when somebody like edward snowden just willy-nilly throws it all up in the air for people to see. you know, we are a nation of laws. this is one of the laws. and you know, generally speaking, it's good to follow our legal procedures. that's how we find things out. >> one of the issues with edward snowden that's really not resolved is how he had access to that court ruling on verizon, theifi the fisa ruling.
he had access to things that were not in his purview and he said with the interview with "the guardian" he could look at people's e-mails, including correspondence with the president of the united states if he had e-mails. what he said was before he got into the army and was looking around for a career, before he was hired by the cia, he had a lot of provocative, sarcastic comments about the patriot act. hard to tell when you're reading message boards, but you could tell that this was a very edgy g guy. brilliant, undeniably. and i'm wondering how he got hired by the cia, not by the contractor later on, years later, but he first got a top-secret clearance as a staff employee of the cia. >> well, general, all these private contractors having access to this classified -- >> no, that's not the issue. it's people of this personality type having access to this issue -- >> what about the clearance? >> contractor or government employee, all right? so, it's not so much contractors. contractors don't grant themselves clearances, all
right? the government grants government employees and government contractors clearances. so, this is a government issue. but david, remember, i said ias people learn about the facts of the case. so, let me point out the facts. snowden's wrong. he could not possibly have done the things he claimed he was able to do in terms of tapping communications. james, five inspectors general looked at the program i governed and which you wrote about, and in a public report said there were no abuses. controversial program, but no abuses. >> but general, snowden got into things you had no idea he was getting into. >> i understand -- >> how do you know he's wrong? >> one more point. congressman, it's only terrorism. the only way you can access the meta data is through a terrorist predicate. >> where is that written? >> it's in the court order. it's in the broad structure that david -- >> that's how you get the idea. and once the fbi has it, there are practices, and we asked the fbi director whether it's only used for terrorism and he said
yes, only for terrorism. the attorney general, gonzales, said well, we can use it for criminal investigations. >> well -- >> we've got the information. >> the only reason we've been having these public debates, the only reason these laws have been passed and we're now sitting here talking about this is because of a series of whistleblowe whistleblowers. the government has never wanted any of this reported, never wanted any of it disclosed. if it was up to the government, over the last ten years, this surveillance infrastructure would have grown enormously with no public debate whatsoever. and so, every time we talk about how someone is a traitor for disclosing something, we have to remember, the only reason we're talking about it is because of them. >> it isn't the root of the problem, though, david ignatius, that congress, when they debated the patriot act after 9/11, everybody's feeling the rush of fear of 9/11. they pass the patriot act. they can't agree on any end point for the patriot act. it's reauthorized again in
perpetuity. congress, and congressman, with respect, i know you voted against the patriot act -- congress doesn't seem to have the guts to say we are going to set a date certain to reassess whether this is a state of security that we want to remain in. >> well, you raise a good point, david, and the state of permanent war, permanent anxiety, the fall of 9/11 should end, and i think the country wants it to end. i think these programs and the way that obama has pursued them are an attempt to establish in law a set of rules the country can live with. and although general hayden would have preferred, obviously, that we not have this debate and that these things remain secret, we're now in a debate that will have the useful consequence of people getting to make sensible decisions about the programs, do they really add to our security? it looks like the public thinks they do. >> right. >> are you willing to give up something to have that security? looks like the public wants -- >> but jim, as head of the cia or nsa, you didn't want to have a debate. >> no. you give up operational capacity the more these programs are
known. i know honest men argue, they knew you were doing that all the time, but they don't know the details. and actually, what i fear al qaeda learns about this program is not what we're allowed to do but they learn what we're not allowed to do and they learn the limits of the program. and david, just one comment. the programs we're talking about here now, p.r.i.s.m. and the meta data program, were established under the court under president bush in 2006 and 2008. and although candidate obama had problems with it, president-elect obama was briefed on it and embraced them as they existed when he came to office. >> general, one of the things that i think has been written about from both the left and the right -- peggy noonan wrote about it this weekend -- is that there is a lack of confidence in the government, which has evolved over variety of administrations. so, when you say trust me, this data, the meta data are stored and we're not going to go into it unless there's a court order, unless it's because of a terrorist plot, and then if a
judge orders that, it's then turned over to the fbi and then they can pursue and look at the content. >> right. >> so, we've got the numbers, but we're not looking, we're not reading. but people no longer, after bengha benghazi, after irs, certainly, and after a lot of other things, don't have confidence in their government, and that is leading to a disaffection and a disconnection that going forward is very troubling. >> i'm sorry, one of the things that really i think concerns people is that you've created something that never existed in american history before, and that is a surveillance state. the infrastructure that, basically using software technology and data mining and eavesdropping, very sophisticated technology to create an infrastructure that a police state would have, and that's what really should concern americans, because we haven't had a full national debate about the creation of a massive surveillance state and surveillance infrastructure that if we had some radical change in our politics could lead to a
police state. >> you know, when we talk about the politics of this, congressman, look at some of the more well-known leakers or whistleblowers in our more recent history, going back to the pentagon papers and daniel ellsberg and karen silkwood, jeffrey wigand of the tobacco industry, bradley manning, julian assange. who in effect as a country do we like and who don't we like in this capacity? >> well, all leak eers, and the law on leaking classified information is murky. technically, it's not against the law to release classified information if it doesn't do any harm. it is illegal to release information that's sensitive and not even classified, if it does do some harm. and so, the justice department has the burden of proving that snowden's release caused some harm. i think they ought to be able to do that. and therefore, it's illegal. but it's very murky. but one thing, again, there is
no separation between getting all this surveillance for fighting terrorism, and you've got national, foreign intelligence. foreign intelligence is going to have nothing to do with crime, nothing to do with terrorism, nothing to do with any -- it could be negotiating a trade deal, you could get a lot of this information. but once you get it, you say the fbi's not going to look into it -- >> but i'm asking the question here about who's celebrated, who's not. i mean, who's a journalist? what's real journalist activity versus what david referenced before, which is, we are a country where we shouldn't be comfortable with the idea of a 29-year-old disaffected contractor who is personally offended by a program, takes it upon himself to leak government secrets and compromise what the government in three branches thinks is important. >> and i think one of the reasons that has happened and has repeatedly happened throughout the war on terror is that the system, the internal system for whistleblowing, for
watchdog and oversight system is broken. there is no good way for anyone inside the government to go through the chain of command and report about something like this. they all fear retaliation. they fear prosecution. and so, most whistleblowers, really, the only way they now have is to go to the press or to go to someone, go outside, like snowden did. he chose people in the press to go to. he picked and chose who he wanted. but the problem is, people inside the system would try to go through the chain of command get retaliated against, punished, and they eventually learn not to do it anymore. >> jim, i think they can go to congress, they can go to the intelligence committees, they can go to people -- >> if you're in the intelligence community, if you're a low-ranking person in the intelligence community and you go to the congress, to the senate or the house, you will be going outside the normal bounds -- >> he gave up his life so he
could go to china. i do think -- >> that's a fixable problem, jim -- >> he's now given the chinese such a weapon. they are now protesting in hong kong, authorized protests about hacking -- >> let me enter into part of the discussion on this point, general hayden, final point, which is, do you have to accept from your point of view that, hey, we're just not going to be quite as good at chasing the bad guys or we have to accept some limits on this for the sake of bringing the american people along? >> david, for part of my life, when i was running the nsa program, i thought lawful, effective and appropriate were enough. by the time i got to cia, i discovered i had a fourth requirement, and that's politically sustainable. and by the time i got to cia, i was of the belief that i would have to, probably have to shave points off of operational effectiveness to inform enough people that we had the political sustainability and the comfort of the american population concerning what it was we were doing. so, i think it's, living in this
kind of a democracy, we're going to have to be a little bit less effective in order to be a little bit more transparent to get to do anything to defend the american people. >> all right. i want to take just a couple of minutes to switch gears a little bit, because it is father's day, which is an important day for me to celebrate my dad and celebrate the fact that i have kids and they make me so happy. so, we wanted to start an online discussion, which we did this morning on twitter and facebook. the idea of, you know, what did your dad teach you? what do you hope your kids learn from you? i tweeted something last night. "my dad taught me about dedication and perseverance, and i hope my kids feel encouraged by me and learn resilience." it's the kind of thing that i think has really gotten the conversation started. andrea, as you think about your own beloved dad. >> my dad, sid mitchell, is going to be 99 next month, and he taught me to keep fighting to persevere no matter what, to be strong but that character is the most important thing that counts. >> 99 is pretty impressive. >> 99. >> and your dad, david, what a
huge honor here at 92 years old. >> my dad, paul ignatius, who is 92, was celebrated this past week at the pentagon. he's a world war ii combat veteran in the navy and served as navy secretary under president johnson. and this week, he brought his family to the pentagon where a ship awas named in his honor. so, when i look at my dad, i'm going to think "uss paul ignatius." so, happy father's day, pop. >> and jim, it's good to see your boy with you here today. >> yeah, my oldest son came with me this morning. so, he's having a good time watching us. >> yeah, yeah, absolutely. what do you think from your own upbringing? >> well, my father was a railway mail clerk back when they still had those kinds of things. so, i think he -- but he always wanted to be a journalist and he wasn't able to do it because of the depression, so i think he would be happy. >> general? >> my dad's 93, birthday this week. >> wow. >> he taught me about the importance of showing up.
being tough and doing your job. happy father's day, dad. >> congressman? >> let me just make one comment. if we separate this entire discussion, terrorism and other stuff, i don't think we'd have as complicated a question. >> thank you, sir. >> i don't think you have to shave points on fighting terrorism. we do have to shave points if you're using it for criminal investigations, once you've got the information, going through it for whatever reason. i think you've got a different discussion that's developing this database, and it's sitting there. don't tell me you're not going to use it for kidnapping or any other thing. once you start dipping into it, you're dipping into it. my father served on the newport news school board. he was the only african-american on the school board and served, he was in office when brown v. board of education came down. and being the only african-american, most of the votes were 4-1. he points out that they had a subcommittee of the five-member board. four members went to richmond and discussed the segregation
and integration with the governor, and you can imagine which one was left out. but being able to maintain decorum and keep fighting, whether you're on the losing edge or not is something i learned. >> one thing i'm trying to learn as a parent is even where it doesn't seem like it, your kids really are listening to you. it's very important that you try and say the right (announcer) scottrade knows our clients trade and invest their own way. with scottrade's smart text, i can quickly understand my charts, and spend more time trading.
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the debate goes on. be sure to catch "press pass" with rich lowrie on his book "lincoln unbound" about the leadership discussions of president lincoln. leadership discussions of presi[ male announcer ] i've seen incredible things. otherworldly things. but there are some things i've never seen before. this ge jet engine can understand 5,000 data samples per second. which is good for business.
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>> this is "the chris matthews show." >> ask not what your country can do for you. >> tear down this wall. >> i can hear you. >> the time for change has come. chris: the hawks cheering him on, president obama said this week he'll back the syrian rebels. how far, it's not clear. on the homefront, he defends the middle against charges from left and right that he's overreached on surveillance. is this the look of the second term? officer in charge. the day a president takes office he accepts the full-time duty to protect us. he learns what's out there. and the weapons he's got to keep us safe. is it any surprise that president barack obama became more hard-nosed, defending this country with whatever he's got? and finally, the new hillary. no longer will she sell herself as the former first lady who was close to the action. that was last time. this time, she's running as an
american who for four years buttressed this country around the globe. it's her record in the world she'll offer, not her pafment as first lady or even as new york senat. hi, i'm chris matthews. welcome to the show. and with us today, nbc's chuck todd. the bbc's katty kay. nbc's kelly o'donnell. and "the washington post's" david ignatius. first up, the president's decision to supply some weapons to syrian rebels. taken together with the breadth of our national security data collection showed how much a commander in chief must meld his views to the realities he confronts in office. on syria, the president decided this country could not avoid involvement when chemical weapons had been used. and on the data sweep, obama's past strong statements about privacy have had to bend with the realities of the threats against the country as he has seen them. let's start with syria. david, i guess the big question is why are we now going in apparently with some kind of military support to the rebels in syria? >> syria is the problem from hell as one